Carpal tunnel syndrome (CTS) is a common condition that causes numbness, tingling and sometimes pain in the hand and fingers. It’s caused by the compression of the median nerve in the carpal tunnel – a narrow nerve passageway in the wrist.
The main symptoms are pain, numbness, and tingling in the thumb, index finger, middle finger, and the thumb side of the ring fingers. Symptoms typically start gradually increasing over time and sometimes the pain may extend up the arm.
In some cases, grip strength may weaken and after a long period of time, the muscles at the base of the thumb may waste away.
Other symptoms of carpal tunnel syndrome include;
- paresthesia (pins and needles)
- thumb weakness
- a dull ache in the hand or arm
There are a number of ways through which the risk of developing the condition can be reduced. These include wearing splints, taking periodic breaks from repetitive tasks and doing stretches.
Incorporating regular stretches and strength training activities for the hands and wrists into your regular exercise and wellness routine is one of the most effective ways of preventing and offsetting pressure on the median nerve.
The following stretches can help you effectively lower the risk of developing the carpal tunnel syndrome:
1. Prayer stretch
Start with your palms together in front of your chest just below your chin. Slowly lower wrists until a stretch is felt. Hold for 5-10 seconds and slowly return to starting position. Repeat 3 times.
2. Wrist flexor stretch
With your arm extended in front of you and elbow straight, slowly bend wrist upwards with the palm of your hand facing away from you. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly return to starting position. Use your other hand to apply pressure on the wrist until you feel a stretch in your forearm. Repeat 2 to 3 times.
3. Wrist extensor stretch
With arm resting on table and hand hanging off the table and elbow straight, slowly grab the injured hand and slowly bend the wrist down towards the floor with the palm of your hand turned to face towards you until a stretch is felt. Hold for 30 seconds and slowly return to the starting position.
4. Wrist circles
Moving the wrist in a circular manner will help encourage and improve the range of motion in your wrists. Start by making a fist. Hold the fist in the air and turn your wrist in clockwise circles 5 times. Repeat the exercise but this time round in an anticlockwise motion.
5. Wrist supination/pronation
Start by positioning your arms at your side with the elbow bent to 90 degrees, palm facing down (pronation). Then rotate your forearm, so that your palm faces up (supination) and repeat the movement 10-15 times.
These stretching exercises can help you stay healthy and keep the condition at bay.
At Recovery Partners, our consultants can help ensure that you have the best practices in your workplace, and help improve office ergonomics. After all, a healthy workforce is a productive workforce.
We are available in multiple locations across Australia. If you are interested, you can enquire online here.
Alternatively, our consultants love to have a chat, so go ahead and give us a call on 1300 OHS RTW (647 789).
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Disclaimer – these articles are provided to supply general safety information to people responsible for OHS in their organisation. They are general in nature and do not substitute for legal and/or professional advice. We always suggest that organisations obtain information specific to their needs. Additional information can be found at www.workcover.nsw.au
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